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Weimar Republic

Graf Zeppelin Issues - 1928

In September 1928, the Weimar Republic issued its first stamps for use on mail carried by the airship LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin.

The two airmail stamps, shown above (Mi. #423-24, Sc. #C36-37), were issued on September 20, 1928, to publicize the first trans-Atlantic flight of the airship Graf Zeppelin to the United States on October 11, 1928.

The design features the Graf Zeppelin, flying over the Atlantic Ocean, between North America and Europe.

The 2 Rm. value was issued to pay the postcard rate and the 4 Rm. value was issued to pay the letter rate. The stamps were printed on white paper, with a network watermark.

Though issued for the first trans-Atlantic flight, the stamps were valid until the end of December 1937, and they were used on many subsequent airship flights. The Scott Catalog lists a 1 Rm. carmine stamp with this design, but it was not actually issued until 1931.

First Trans-Atlantic Flight
October 11 - October 15, 1928

Weimar Republic Graf Zeppelin 2 Mark on flown postcard from Bremen. Germany to Lakehurst. N.J. (Addressed to Austin, Texas). Black Friedrichshaven 7 October 1928 CDS. Graf Zeppelin forwarding cancel “Mit Luftschiff LZ 127 befördert” in blue. Black New York, N.Y., 16 October 1928 receipt postmark at bottom.

Weimar Republic Graf Zeppelin 2 Reichsmark on flown postcard from Germany to Lakehurst, N.J. (Addressed to Arlington, N.J.). Black Friedrichshaven, 10 October 1928 CDS. Graf Zeppelin forwarding cancel “Mit Luftschiff LZ 127 befördert” in blue. Black New York, N.Y. 16 October 1928 receipt postmark at bottom.

Weimar Republic Graf Zeppelin 4 Mark on flown cover from Speyer, Germany to Lakehurst, N.J. (Addressed to Pennsylvania). Black Friedrichshaven, 10 October 1928 CDS. Graf Zeppelin forwarding cancel “Mit Luftschiff LZ 127 befördert” in blue. Black New York, N.Y., 16 October 1928 receipt postmark on back.

Enclosed letter, dated Speyer, 5 October 1928, from an Essie Schwab, indicates … “Just a line I will send you with the Airship Graf Zeppelin. I don’t want to go with them. Too fast for me …”

Interrupted First Around-the-World Flight
May 1929

A Weimar Republic Graf Zeppelin 4 Mark + 25 Pf. Hindenburg definitive on flown cover from Wiesbaden, Germany to Lakehurst, N.J. (Addressed to New York City). Black Friedrichshaven, 15 May 1929 CDS. Handstamped Blue cachet “LUFTSCHIFF GRAFF ZEPPELIN / 1. AMERIKAFAHRT 1929”. Graf Zeppelin marking in red, indicating “Due to mishap the flight was delayed for the first America trip”. Black New York, N.Y. 5 August 1929 receipt postmark on back. The blue cachet was applied in flight, and it was for the second trans-Atlantic flight to Lakehurst in 1929. The Around-the-World flight letters received a large diamond shaped red cachet on them. Due to the accident in France, and the airship's return to the Weimar Republic for repairs, this letter, which should have taken four days to arrive at its destination, took over two and one half months!

This cover was mailed to New York City, at the regular trans-Atlantic letter rate of 4 Rm. I don't think it was intended to be processed with the same mail going on the May 1929 Around-the-World flight, but through a quirk of luck, that's the way this cover wound up.

The round-the-World flight attempt really began on May 14, 1929, when the airship departed from Friedrichshaven for its trip to Lakehurst. It didn't get too far when an engine breakdown forced a landing at Cuers, France. The engine was repaired and the Graf Zeppelin returned to Friedrichshaven. May 15 mail was held at Friedrichshaven, until August 1, 1929, when the Graf Zeppelin made another attempt to cross the Atlantic for Lakehurst. The delayed mail was backstamped in New York on August 5, 1929.

As mandated by the sponsor of the trip, William Randolph Hearst, Lakehurst was to be the official point of origin for the around-the-World trip, so, after repairs were completed, the Graf Zeppelin had to return to Lakehurst from Germany, to begin the around-the-World trip again.

On August 8, 1929 the Graf Zeppelin departed Lakehurst, on the Around-the-World voyage, for its flight to Friedrichshaven, arriving there on August 10th. On August 15th, the Graf Zeppelin then left Germany, flying across Asia, for Kasumigaura Naval Air Station, near Tokyo, Japan, arriving there on August 18th. On August 23rd, the Graf Zeppelin bade farewell to Japan and headed for the United States, arriving at Los Angeles, California on August 26th. The following day it left Los Angeles for Lakehurst, New Jersey arriving there on August 29th, completing its voyage. The Graf Zeppelin then returned to Friedrichshaven, arriving there on September 4th.

LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin moored at Los Angeles
During the 1929 Around-the-World Flight

The entire around-the-Wold trip, from Lakehurst to Lakehurst, took 21 days, with stop-overs, though the actual flying time was just a little over 12 days. A U.S. franked letter carried on the entire trip, required $3.55 in U.S. postage, the equivalent of about $45.00 today. Just before the start of the Great Depression, an out-of-pocket expense like that, for a philatelic souvenir, took a REALLY DEDICATED collector!

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Graf Zeppelin Issues - 1928